In lieu of real wankerdom

Brevity is the soul of wit, some guy in 16th century England once said. I will be the first to admit reviews can be witless, on that count and many others.

Since the backlog of albums in which I’ve intended to toss my 2.332 yen has become mountainous, I figure short reviews should suffice to purge those opinions out of my head once and for all.

Should keep the wankerdom down, too.

Bonnie Pink, Golden Tears

There’s a fine line between retro and dated, and the first single from Golden Tears, “So Wonderful”, crosses that line to the latter. The heavy-handed disco flourishes from the outset did not give me incentive to explore the rest of the album.

Bonnie Pink has her heart in the right place — she wants to expand; she wants to go beyond the trappings of her singer-songwriter aesthetic. With Golden Tears, she throws caution to the wind and does just about anything, dabbling a toe in electroclashy timbres on “Rise and Shine” (so 2002) to getting funky on “You Got Me Good”.

What results is a scattered collection, deeply ambitious but without enough bravado to overshadow the double-hitter consistency of her last two albums.

John Zorn/Masada, Sanhedrin

Nope — can’t do it.

I can’t tell the difference between the outtakes featured on Sandhedrin and the final cuts on the 10 Masada studio albums recorded between 1993 and 1997.

I can, however, say it was nice to revist the dynamic of Zorn’s Ornette Coleman-inspired quartet. Zorn and trumpeter Dave Douglas converse through their instruments with the heated passion of two opinionated egos battling for the last word. And it’s an intense, fun and illuminating dialogue.

Bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Joey Baron ground the interplay with their own tight foundation. Baron, in particular, is never content just to keep time — his drumming practically injects a fourth harmonic voice.

The two-disc Sanhedrin is quite a lot of music — I don’t think I managed to hear everything on it.

Straightener, Title

Oh hell — these guys are practically ready to drop their third album. What’s the point in reviewing this early 2005 release anyway?

Oddly enough, it’s one album I played a number of times over and over again, and I couldn’t come up with a definitive opinion about it. Like Sasagawa Miwa’s Amata, Straightener’s Title is still better than a lot of what passes for music out there in the world. At the same time, it’s doesn’t have the same lustre as the band’s major label debut, Lost World’s Anthology.

The songwriting is a bit more complex, and the melodies aren’t as hook-ready as the ones on the first album. It’s satisfying music for its obvious growth, but it’s missing that intangible quality that would make it exceptionally appealing.

I just hope these guys don’t turn into the one-trick pony Acidman has become. Now there’s a band that squandered what little potential it had in the first place.

m-flo, Beat Space Nine

m-flo defied expectations after the departure of Lisa in 2002 to produce a thrilling album of collaborations. Becoming the Santana of Japanese hip-hop, Verbal and Taku didn’t aim to replace Lisa, and it’s a shrewd move that worked to their advantage.

Beat Space Nine is the second post-Lisa album, and it has just about everything you come to expect from m-flo — imaginative sonic collages, interplanetary interludes, Verbal’s annoyingly weak raps and an ear for melody.

But there’s something too familiar about it all. “Loop”, featuring Emyli & Yoshika, was what lost me. The bass line, the chorus, the construction of the song — I’d heard it before. In 2004. A song called “miss you” by a group called m-flo, professing love to a girl name melody. and a guy named Yamamoto Ryouhei.

m-flo does what it does very well, and I wouldn’t want them to transform themselves into a garage band just for the sake of a creative challenge. But I think the foundation underwhich m-flo constructs its elaborate sampled wonderlands may need some refreshening.

“Hey” with Akiko Wada, though, is fucking cool.